Term Paper: Paintings Sculpture

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Rodin, David

It is amazing how much of a personal impact a sculpture can make, especially when that work of art is something like Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker." Unfortunately, because his sculpture is so well liked, many companies have reproduced it over and over again in smaller versions. Imagine what he would say when seeing all these replicas lined up in a store. It is believed that the Thinker was Rodin's favorite sculpture, so perhaps he would not have been upset.

Originally, the work was called "The Poet" and commissioned by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris as part of a series for Dante's the Divine Comedy where each piece was to represent another of the characters in the epic. The statue was to show Dante reflecting on what he saw below. Yet, it is believed that Rodin considered the figure in a broader viewpoint with wider concepts. It is a man who is deep in contemplation with his hand in his chin, right elbow on the left knee and curved position to give a feeling of and stillness and motion at the same time (Chilvers 524)

What is also incredible is that the Thinker was Rodin's first public piece. It was placed in front of the Pantheon in 1906 during an unstable political time, which turned it into a socialist symbol. In 1922, with the excuse that the statue created a hindrance during public ceremonies, it was sent to the garden of the Hotel Biron that had changed its name to the Rodin Museum. Another example was placed over the tomb of Rodin in Meudon.

When Rodin began doing his sculptures, they were often seen as "shocking," because of their realism and ability to move people emotionally. Very few artists for hundreds of years had been able to catch the bodily form as he did with a crossover into the artistic stages such as Post-impressionism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau (Selz 113).

Rodin was very protective of the Thinker, which he had spent considerable time producing. First, he experimented with the seated figure, including a complete turning form with modeling that followed a Michelangelo style. He also had a large-scale torso of his own Ugolino in the studio that he used as a guide. The first stages and a small scale "maquette" were made in 1880. The hair still has the cap portrayed with Dante, while the lower section looked something like Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux's Ugolino (Selz 113).

Until he gave the figure to the Alexis Rudier foundry in 1906, Rodin demanded that the bronze version of the original stone of the Thinker be produced by the difficult lost-wax method of casting, which is as old as 6,000 years. Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese and African artisans used this approach to produce weapons, tools and jewelry in addition to works of art (Hatcher 5). The lost-wax method starts with a sculpture that the artist makes out of a much softer medium like wood, wax or clay. When this prototype is completed, a usable mold is produced by overlaying it side-by-side with rubber. After the rubber dries, each half of the rubber mold is protected by plaster. Next, molten wax is poured into the two rubber molds, which creates two separate wax shells that are connected into the form of the original clay sculpture. This wax replica is then covered with a mixture of plaster, sand and water and put into a hot kiln. The wax melts and flows out through holes. Then the plaster mixture turns into a rock hard mold and an empty cavity inside. Bronze is melted at… [END OF PREVIEW]

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